COVID-19 Response Task Force
August 14, 2020

After four months of COVID-19, as various numbers rise, fall, plateau or double-back, most people realize this pandemic will be around for quite a while longer. The desire to start a fall season of new beginnings (school! sports! rally day!) is so tantalizing and the loss we feel is so real. Perhaps it's time to step back and evaluate the past, present and future of your COVID response.

What are the virus-transmission conditions in your community?

The State of Illinois is tracking information in eleven regions to identify and respond to a resurgence of cases if necessary. It is imperative to be familiar with what is happening in your region and have plans in place to enact your church's particular response. Warning thresholds have been outlined in the plans for mitigation but limits on indoor gatherings and room capacity are not specifically quantified. Those with in-person gatherings should be extra vigilant in recording your attendees and identify when to suspend these activities.

The new rules associated with the mask-mandate already in place give local governments more tools for enforcement against those who openly defy the state guidelines. Most communities look to their places of worship to set the example and support their efforts to continue to beat back the spread of the virus - wear masks, social distance and don't become lackadaisical with compliance. Thank you for doing your part.

How are you meeting the needs of your worshiping community?

In March and April, many congregations quickly implemented what they thought would be short term on-line worship platforms. Now that it seems an on-line worship option is here to stay, forward looking congregations are rethinking their platform, hardware and software. This is a good time to do a critical evaluation of what is working and what could be improved. Better camera? Zoomed-in camera view? Higher quality sound? The Zoom Faith Facebook group (it's public) offers a wide variety of topics regarding all aspects of virtual church from equipment to best practices.

You might also want to critically look at your website - are your worship options clearly spelled out on the home page? Many churches have discovered new people choosing to join them online - make it easy for them to find you!

Do you have members unable to access either a virtual service or in-person worship? You might consider sending a tech-helper (in mask) to their home to assess the situation and offer solutions. Some churches are even considering purchasing inexpensive devices for some members. And finally, are you in steady communication with your congregation? They are anxious to hear from you.

How are you responding to the needs of your neighborhood and community?

Without additional assistance, the unemployed or marginalized in your community are running out of options. Have you fully explored how your church can help? Consider phone calls to teachers, schools, health departments or nursing facilities to ask if they have needs. Join forces with other churches or groups in their efforts. You might be able to offer your facility, your volunteers, your financial help, even your WiFi signal. (We know of one kindergarten teacher who "out-sources" paper cutting chores to a fellow church member.) By focusing your mission outward, worries and cares are softened.


It's not too late to plan for a day of shared worship. Pastor Steve Bowie, of Rockford Third Presbyterian has been planning a special Labor Day weekend service and your congregation is invited! Pastors are weary, audio-visual people are weary - it's okay to offer something different to your church family on September 6.

If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact Pastor Steve or the Presbytery office.

For the service, go to:

Signs of Hope and New Life in Blackhawk
We want to encourage one another. Please contact us with your story!!
Hands Helping Hands in Kankakee
Back in May, some members of Kankakee First Presbyterian were looking for a way to show their support and appreciation to the front-line medical workers who have labored in their community’s two hospitals. The stress of dealing with COVID patients and added safety precautions was taking a toll.

The idea started out as cookies, but shifted to lotion as a unique, and practical choice instead.
While the session agreed to fund the project with $500, a campaign for donations, netting $795, enabled all items to be purchased without dipping into church finances. There was just enough to be able to purchase 700 small, 2 oz. tubes of Jergens lotion plus label each one with a note of thanks and church information.

A team of volunteers affixed the labels, bagged (in church logo bags with church pens), boxed, and delivered to two grateful hospital's team members. One hospital sent their thanks for such a thoughtful donation: “Your support not only encourages our staff, it is heartwarming and a nod (to) our community. We really are in this together.”
Bless the Students.
Bless the Backpacks.

Ridgefield-Crystal Lake children, youth, college age adults and their families gathered on the lawn last week Sunday for the last Summer of Service event and backpack blessing. Children were asked to bring their school supplies for CWS and their backpacks for a worship service geared towards them. The organizers handed out backpack tags and ribbons to be tied to a tree as a reminder of their prayers. It was attended by 35 or so people including some neighbors that ventured over - a nice way to collect supplies and see friends while worshiping together, in person. Check out their promotion/invitation for this event.


Blackhawk Presbytery COVID-19 page - information from past COVID updates is added regularly

Please email the Presbytery office with your questions, concerns or suggestions. We are working from home and not monitoring the office phone.